Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Book of the Week 3/5/08 Northlanders:Sven the Returned #4

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Davide Gianfelice
Colors by Dave McCaig

Whew, there were some enjoyable books this week! This week I have to give credit where credit is due and admit that Brian Wood's foul mouthed viking saga really has me hooked now. One part historical fiction, one part action/intrigue story, the flow of the book is really gripping. I've talked about this comic several times on the show and I think the story is really now hitting its stride.

While I didn't notice it at first, somewhere along the line, I've really grown to...not exactly enjoy the characters, but become incredibly interested in what happens to them. Their motivations aren't noble and while there are clear villains, there are no real "good" guys. Now that I think about it, the main characters are reminiscent of 70s-movie anti-heroes, who lived in a very grey moral area. After a brief action packed intro, Wood spends most of this issue delving into Sven's real reason for coming back to his homeland and trying to regain his family's fortune. The character of the archer is also gradually becoming more of a main figure in the book which I'm very happy about. She adds a sliver of emotion to a very cold landscape. The scene which sold me on this book though involved the death of two characters who have rarely been in the entire series. However, their deaths solidify the sad state of Sven's homeland and finally seem to rock his inner core to elicit some character growth. All in all, I was captivated by this issue.

Gianfelice's art is solid. While not quite realistic and not quite animated, it seems a little loose at times. On other titles that may be a bad thing but with this story, it tends to add to the rugged look of the environment. This seems to be intentional as contrasted between shots of the main setting where the art is gritty and the flashbacks of Sven in Constantinople where both the scenery and characters are much smoother, In general, both the art and colors echo the feel of the book, having a weathered and dirty look to it.

I haven't heard much talk of this title but I'm glad I've been able to pick up on this book. With only four issues in, it shouldn't be too hard to find the back issues and be caught up. This one is definitely worth the ride.

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